The Biggest Tent: A NewOrg for a New Schechter

Published: 
February 5, 2016

Source: Jon Mitzmacher's Blog

 

However jarring it might seem from the outside to witness the transition from the Solomon Schechter Day School Association to the Schechter Day School Network to NewOrg over the course of just three years, the truth is that the story of Schechter and many of its schools is the story of NewOrg and that is why I am confident and enthusiastic that NewOrg is a game changer for Schechter and for the field.

The story of Schechter over the last couple of years is a story of renewal, reconnection, reintroduction and rebirth. I have visited over thirty-five Schechter schools in the last eighteen months and I can testify that the state of our union is strong. There is unequivocally a thing called “Schechter” that includes, but is not limited to, both a clear educational philosophy and a strong sense of Jewish mission and vision. There are broadly shared assumptions about standards, innovation, excellence, rigor, integration, Zionism, Hebrew language acquisition, centrality of prayer, and much more which simply cannot be reduced to policy or schedule or a prayerbook. There are relationships with Conservative Judaism that include synagogues (USCJ), camp (Ramah), youth movements USY), and academia (JTS and AJU) and our schools have a multivalent relationship with the movement that is not a weakness of either, but a strength of both.

The story of Schechter is that of a big tent where Schechter schools share an overwhelming majority of critical characteristics that taken together clearly identify them as “Schechter” while preserving sufficient room for schools to be who they are in an ever-changing, ever-more-blurry Jewish world. I blogged at length early in our rebirth about how all Schechter schools (really all Jewish day schools) are by some definition “community schools” and I revisit that notion here only to suggest that among many catalysts and forces that led to NewOrg, one that I believe is deserving of inclusion is the reemergence of Schechter as a vital force in the field. Our work helped clarify that some boundaries are more permeable than others; that some lines had grown more blurry than others and that the future of Schechter and the field would require a healthy re-imagination of that adjacent possible.

And that brings us to NewOrg.

NewOrg makes possible for Jewish day schools what the current constellation of organizations could not – the ability to be defined across a multiplicity of domains and the opportunity to be resourced as such. Schools will no longer be reduced to one definition as a result of politics or size or religious affiliation or cost. NewOrg is the promise of personalized organizational support equal to that which our leaders and teachers require and our students deserve. If you are a Schechter school by virtue of your Jewish mission and vision, a community school by virtue of your pluralistic enrollment, Hebrew immersed by virtue of your approach to second-language acquisition, Zionist by virtue of the centrality of Israel, “21st century” by virtue of your beliefs about innovation and educational technology, fiscally safeguarded by virtue of your endowment programs, etc., etc., etc., then your school will engage with NewOrg along and across all these dimensions with the people and resources necessary to be the most successful version of your authentic self.

That’s why we believe this is a huge “win-win” and a gigantic “yes, and” for Schechter.

Read the entire post here.

Updated: Feb. 10, 2016
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